Top 5 Health Issues in Senior Cats

3 min read
Jan 11, 2022

With advances in veterinary medical care, cats now often live well into their teens and even 20's.

However, with old age comes age-related health problems. Fortunately, senior cats aren’t left to days full of sickness and pain as they age. With proactive care on your part, your senior cat can live a fulfilling life in their golden years.

Below are a few common health conditions in senior cats that pet parents should keep an eye out for when caring for a senior cat.


Arthritis occurs when the cushiony cartilage between joints wears thin, causing painful bone-on-bone rubbing. Feline arthritis is typically caused by either a genetic disease or an old unhealed injury.

Senior cats with arthritis are less active, struggle to get up, and groom themselves less. They might even hiss if a painful joint is touched.

Arthritis is managed with pain medication, joint supplements, and other therapies like gentle massages and stretches. Joint replacement surgery might be necessary in severe cases.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Kidneys are one of the body’s filtering systems. They remove toxins from the blood and flush them out through the urine. In senior cats, the kidneys don’t always work so well, causing a toxin buildup in the blood.

Senior cats with CKD drink and urinate more often, are lethargic, and have a decreased appetite.

If caught early enough through routine bloodwork and urinalysis, CKD is manageable with dietary changes and medications.


The thyroid glands are located by the throat and produce thyroid hormones. These hormones regulate many bodily functions, including metabolism, digestive function, and muscle control. 

With hyperthyroidism, the thyroid glands overproduce thyroid hormones. Senior cats with hyperthyroidism are hyperactive, have an increased appetite, and defecate more often. They also lose weight. Hyperthyroidism is controlled with medication.


Cancer is a common cause of death in senior cats. Gastrointestinal lymphoma, which is a cancerous growth of immune cells in the digestive tract, is a particularly common form of feline cancer. 

Cancer symptoms will vary according to the cancer type. General symptoms include lethargy, decreased appetite, and weight loss.
Treatment depends on the type of cancer present.

Dental Disease

Senior cats often experience dental problems.
Periodontal disease affects the teeth’s supporting structures, primarily the gums. Stomatitis is inflammation of the mouth’s soft tissues. If not properly managed, these dental conditions make senior cats miserable, causing such symptoms as bad breath, bleeding gums, difficulty eating, and excessive drooling.

Annual veterinary dental cleanings and weekly at-home dental care from an early age help stave off dental problems in a cat’s senior years.

Management Strategies

Below are a few tips for keeping your senior cat as healthy as possible:

  • Feed your cat a specially-formulated senior diet.
  • Exercise your cat regularly with physical activities that they can do easily.
  • Closely monitor your cat’s behavior and take note of any concerning changes.
  • Provide easy access to “creature comforts” like food and water bowls, perches, and favorite toys.
  • Take your cat to your veterinarian twice a year for senior wellness exams.

Bringing it Together

Senior cats may not have much pep in their step, but they can still live a full life full of love. Continue to show your senior cat lots of love and be proactive about managing common health problems.

Consider Investing in Cat Insurance  

Looking for more ways to protect your kitty?  Consider investing in a cat insurance policy with MetLife Pet Insurance.1  Get your free quote today. 

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Nothing in this article should be construed as financial, legal or veterinary advice. Please consult your own advisors for questions relating to your and your pet’s specific circumstances.

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